|Other Ancient Sources|
Clement (died 99 or 101 AD) to the Corinthians: Moreover, ye were all distinguished by humility, and were in no respect puffed up with pride, but yielded obedience rather than extorted it, (Eph. 5:21; 1 Peter 5:5) and were more willing to give than to receive. (Acts 20:35) Content with the provision which God had made for you, and carefully attending to His words, ye were inwardly filled (literally, "ye embraced it in your bowels") with His doctrine, and His sufferings were before your eyes. Thus a profound and abundant peace was given to you all, and ye had an insatiable desire for doing good, while a full outpouring of the Holy Spirit was upon you all.
Ignatius (c.35 or 50 – 98 to c.108) to the Trallians: Be ye therefore on your guard against such men. And this will surely be, if ye be not puffed up and if ye be inseparable from [God] Jesus Christ and from the bishop and from the ordinances of the Apostles.
Ignatius to the Magnesians: Let me have joy of you in all things, if I be worthy. For even though I am in bonds, yet am I not comparable to one of you who are at liberty. I know that ye are not puffed up; for ye have Jesus Christ in yourselves. And, when I praise you, I know that ye only feel the more shame; as it is written the righteous man is a self-accuser.
Ignatius to Polycarp: Despise not slaves, whether men or women. Yet let not these again be puffed up, but let them serve the more faithfully to the glory of God, that they may obtain a better freedom from God.
Irenaeus (died c. 202), Against Heresies: Springing from Saturninus and Marcion, those who are called Encratites (self-controlled) preached against marriage, thus setting aside the original creation of God, and indirectly blaming Him who made the male and female for the propagation of the human race. Some of those reckoned among them have also introduced abstinence from animal food, thus proving themselves ungrateful to God, who formed all things. They deny, too, the salvation of him who was first created. It is but lately, however, that this opinion has been invented among them. A certain man named Tatian first introduced the blasphemy. He was a hearer of Justin’s, and as long as he continued with him he expressed no such views; but after his martyrdom he separated from the Church, and, excited and puffed up by the thought of being a teacher, as if he were superior to others, he composed his own peculiar type of doctrine.
Irenaeus, Against Heresies: True knowledge, then, consists in the understanding of Christ, which Paul terms the wisdom of God hidden in a mystery, which "the natural man receiveth not," (1 Cor. 2:14) the doctrine of the cross; of which if any man "taste," (1 Pet. 2:3) he will not accede to the disputations and quibbles of proud and puffed-up men, (1 Tim. 6:4,5) who go into matters of which they have no perception. (Col. 2:18) For the truth is unsophisticated (asche-MATistos); and "the word is nigh thee, in thy mouth and in thy heart," (Rom. 10:8; Deut. 30:14) as the same apostle declares, being easy of comprehension to those who are obedient.
Irenaeus, Against Heresies: It is therefore better and more profitable to belong to the simple and unlettered class, and by means of love to attain to nearness to God, than, by imagining ourselves learned and skilful, to be found [among those who are] blasphemous against their own God, inasmuch as they conjure up another God as the Father. And for this reason Paul exclaimed, "Knowledge puffeth up, but love edifieth:" (1 Cor. 8:1) not that he meant to inveigh against a true knowledge of God, for in that case he would have accused himself; but, because he knew that some, puffed up by the pretence of knowledge, fall away from the love of God, and imagine that they themselves are perfect, for this reason that they set forth an imperfect Creator, with the view of putting an end to the pride which they feel on account of knowledge of this kind, he says, "Knowledge puffeth up, but love edifieth." Now there can be no greater conceit than this, that any one should imagine he is better and more perfect than He who made and fashioned him, and imparted to him the breath of life, and commanded this very thing into existence. It is therefore better, as I have said, that one should have no knowledge whatever of any one reason why a single thing in creation has been made, but should believe in God, and continue in His love, than that, puffed up through knowledge of this kind, he should fall away from that love which is the life of man; and that he should search after no other knowledge except [the knowledge of] Jesus Christ the Son of God, who was crucified for us, than that by subtle questions and hair-splitting expressions he should fall into impiety.
Irenaeus, Against Heresies: Wherefore it is incumbent to obey the presbyters who are in the Church,--those who, as I have shown, possess the succession from the apostles; those who, together with the succession of the episcopate, have received the certain gift of truth, according to the good pleasure of the Father. But [it is also incumbent] to hold in suspicion others who depart from the primitive succession, and assemble themselves together in any place whatsoever, [looking upon them] either as heretics of perverse minds, or as schismatics puffed up and self-pleasing, or again as hypocrites, acting thus for the sake of lucre and vainglory. For all these have fallen from the truth. ... Those, however, who are believed to be presbyters by many, but serve their own lusts, and, do not place the fear of God supreme in their hearts, but conduct themselves with contempt towards others, and are puffed up with the pride of holding the chief seat, and work evil deeds in secret, saying, "No man sees us," shall be convicted by the Word, who does not judge after outward appearance (secundum gloriam), nor looks upon the countenance, but the heart[.]
Tertullian (c.155-c.240), The Prescription Against Heretics: All are puffed up, all offer you knowledge. Their catechumens are perfect before they are full-taught (edocti). The very women of these heretics, how wanton they are! For they are bold enough to teach, to dispute, to enact exorcisms, to undertake (repromittere) cures--it may be even to baptize. Their ordinations, are carelessly administered (temerariae), capricious, changeable. (They were constantly changing their ministers. It was a saying of the heretics, Alius hodie episcopus, cras alius [Rigalt.]) At one time they put novices in office; at another time, men who are bound to some secular employment (saeculo obstrictos); at another, persons who have apostatized from us, to bind them by vainglory, since they cannot by the truth.
Origen (184/5-253/4), Commentary on Matthew: ... So too, moreover, one will humble himself like the little child which Jesus called; for neither haughtiness, nor conceit in respect of noble birth, or wealth, or any of those things which are thought to be good, but are not, comes to a little child. Wherefore you may see those who are not altogether infants, up to three or four years of age, like to those who are of mean birth, though they may seem to be of noble birth, and not appearing at all to love rich children rather than the poor. If, therefore, in the same way as according to their age children are affected towards those passions which exalt the senseless, the disciple of Jesus under the influence of reason (or, the Word) has humbled himself like the little child which Jesus showed, not being exalted because of vainglory, nor puffed up on the ground of wealth, or raiment, nor elated because of noble birth, in particular are they to be received and imitated in the name of Jesus, who have been converted as the Word showed, like the little child which Jesus took to Him; since especially in such the Christ is, and therefore He says, “Whosoever shall receive one such little child in My name receiveth Me.” (Matt. 18:5)
Dionysius of Alexandria (c.200-264), A Commentary on the Beginning of Ecclesiastes: I was vainly puffed up, and increased wisdom; not the wisdom which God has given, but that wisdom of which Paul says, "The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God." (1 Cor. 3:19) For in this Solomon had also an experience surpassing prudence, and above the measure of all the ancients. Consequently he shows the vanity of it, as what follows in like manner demonstrates: "And my heart uttered (or, discerned) many things: I knew wisdom, and knowledge, and parables, and sciences." But this was not the genuine wisdom or knowledge, but that which, as Paul says, puffeth up. He spake, moreover, as it is written, (1 Kings 4:32) three thousand parables. But these were not parables of a spiritual kind, but only such as fit the common polity of men; as, for instance, utterances about animals or medicines. For which reason he has added in a tone of raillery, "I knew that this also is the spirit’s choice." He speaks also of the multitude of knowledge, not the knowledge of the Holy Spirit, but that which the prince of this world works, and which he conveys to men in order to overreach their souls, with officious questions as to the measures of heaven, the position of earth, the bounds of the sea. But he says also, "He that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow." For they search even into things deeper than these,--inquiring, for example, what necessity there is for fire to go upward, and for water to go downward; and when they have learned that it is because the one is light and the other heavy, they do but increase sorrow: for the question still remains, Why might it not be the very reverse?
Arnobius (died c.330), Adversus Gentes: Here, if any means could be found, I should wish to converse thus with all those who hate the name of Christ, turning aside for a little from the defence primarily set up:—If you think it no dishonour to answer when asked a question, explain to us and say what is the cause, what the reason, that you pursue Christ with so bitter hostility? or what offences you remember which He did, that at the mention of His name you are roused to bursts of mad and savage fury? (literally, "boil up with the ardours of furious spirits") Did He ever, in claiming for Himself power as king, fill the whole world with bands of the fiercest soldiers; and of nations at peace from the beginning, did He destroy and put an end to some, and compel others to submit to His yoke and serve Him? Did He ever, excited by grasping (literally, "by the heats of") avarice, claim as His own by right all that wealth to have abundance of which men strive eagerly? Did He ever, transported with lustful passions, break down by force the barriers of purity, or stealthily lie in wait for other men’s wives? Did He ever, puffed up with haughty arrogance, inflict at random injuries and insults, without any distinction of persons? And if He was not worthy that you should listen to and believe Him, yet He should not have been despised by you even on this account, that He showed to you things concerning your salvation, that He prepared for you a path to heaven, and the immortality for which you long; although He neither extended the light of life to all, nor delivered all from the danger which threatens them through their ignorance.
Arnobius, Adversus Gentes: Now, since it is so, cease, I pray you, cease to rate trifling and unimportant things at immense values. Cease to place man in the upper ranks, since he is of the lowest; and in the highest orders, seeing that his person only is taken account of (capite cum censeatur), that he is needy, poverty-stricken in his house and dwelling (literally, "poor in hearth, and of a poor hut"), and was never entitled to be declared of illustrious descent. For while, as just men and upholders of righteousness, you should have subdued pride and arrogance, by the evils (so the MS, reading malis, for which Ursinus suggested alis, "on the wings of which") of which we are all uplifted and puffed up with empty vanity; you not only hold that these evils arise naturally, but--and this is much worse--you have also added causes by which vice should increase, and wickedness remain incorrigible.
St. John Chrysostom (c.349-407), Homily 33: "Is not puffed up." For so we see many who think highly of themselves on the score of these very excellencies; for example, on not being envious, nor grudging, nor mean-spirited, nor rash: these evils being incidental not to wealth and poverty only, but even to things naturally good. But love perfectly purges out all. And consider: he that is long-suffering is not of course also kind. But if he be not kind, the thing becomes a vice, and he is in danger of falling into malice. Therefore she supplies a medicine, I mean kindness, and preserves the virtue pure. Again, the kind person often becomes over-complaisant; but this also she corrects. For "love," saith he, "vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up:" the kind and long-suffering is often ostentatious; but she takes away this vice also.
Augustine (354-430), A Treatise on the Grace of Christ: But what shall I say about the revelation of wisdom? For there is no man who can in the present life very well hope to attain to the great revelations which were given to the Apostle Paul; and of course it is impossible to suppose that anything was accustomed in these revelations to be made known to him but what appertained to wisdom. Yet for all this he says: "Lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that He would take it away from me. And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness." (2 Cor. 12:7-9) Now, undoubtedly, if there were already in the apostle that perfection of love which admitted of no further addition, and which could be puffed up no more, there could have been no further need of the messenger of Satan to buffet him, and thereby to repress the excessive elation which might arise from abundance of revelations. What means this elation, however, but a being puffed up? And of love it has been indeed most truly said, "Love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up." (1 Cor. 13:4) This love, therefore, was still in process of constant increase in the great apostle, day by day, as long as his "inward man was renewed day by day," (2 Cor. 4:6) and would then be perfected, no doubt, when he was got beyond the reach of all further vaunting and elation. But at that time his mind was still in a condition to be inflated by an abundance of revelations before it was perfected in the solid edifice of love; for he had not arrived at the goal and apprehended the prize, to which he was reaching forward in his course.
Augustine, City of God: :There is nothing, say our philosophers, more disgraceful and monstrous than this picture, and which the eyes of good men can less endure. And they say the truth. But I do not think that the picture would be sufficiently becoming, even if it were made so that the virtues should be represented as the slaves of human glory; for, though that glory be not a luxurious woman, it is nevertheless puffed up, and has much vanity in it. Wherefore it is unworthy of the solidity and firmness of the virtues to represent them as serving this glory, so that Prudence shall provide nothing, Justice distribute nothing, Temperance moderate nothing, except to the end that men may be pleased and vain glory served. Nor will they be able to defend themselves from the charge of such baseness, whilst they, by way of being despisers of glory, disregard the judgment of other men, seem to themselves wise, and please themselves. For their virtue,—if, indeed, it is virtue at all,—is only in another way subjected to human praise; for he who seeks to please himself seeks still to please man. But he who, with true piety towards God, whom he loves, believes, and hopes in, fixes his attention more on those things in which he displeases himself, than on those things, if there are any such, which please himself, or rather, not himself, but the truth, does not attribute that by which he can now please the truth to anything but to the mercy of Him whom he has feared to displease, giving thanks for what in him is healed, and pouring out prayers for the healing of that which is yet unhealed.
Augustine, City of God: However, the very origin of the name suggests something worthy of consideration, if we compare it with the divine books. They are called demons from a Greek word meaning knowledge. Now the apostle, speaking with the Holy Spirit, says, "Knowledge puffeth up, but charity buildeth up." (1 Cor. 8:1) And this can only be understood as meaning that without charity knowledge does no good, but inflates a man or magnifies him with an empty windiness. The demons, then, have knowledge without charity, and are thereby so inflated or proud, that they crave those divine honors and religious services which they know to be due to the true God, and still, as far as they can, exact these from all over whom they have influence. Against this pride of the demons, under which the human race was held subject as its merited punishment, there was exerted the mighty influence of the humility of God, who appeared in the form of a servant; but men, resembling the demons in pride, but not in knowledge, and being puffed up with uncleanness, failed to recognize Him.
Augustine, Confessions: For he answered, that I was yet unteachable, being puffed up with the novelty of that heresy, and had already perplexed divers unskilful persons with captious questions, as she had told him: "but let him alone a while" (saith he), "only pray God for him, he will of himself by reading find what that error is, and how great its impiety."
Augustine, Confessions: I prated as one well skilled; but had I not sought Thy way in Christ our Saviour, I had proved to be, not skilled, but killed. For now I had begun to wish to seem wise, being filled with mine own punishment, yet I did not mourn, but rather scorn, puffed up with knowledge. For where was that charity building upon the foundation of humility, which is Christ Jesus? or when should these books teach me it? Upon these, I believe, Thou therefore willedst that I should fall, before I studied Thy Scriptures, that it might be imprinted on my memory how I was affected by them; and that afterwards when my spirits were tamed through Thy books, and my wounds touched by Thy healing fingers, I might discern and distinguish between presumption and confession; between those who saw whither they were to go, yet saw not the way, and the way that leadeth not to behold only but to dwell in the beatific country.
Augustine, On Christian Doctrine: Let them believe, on the contrary, that the apostles of our faith were neither puffed up when they were honoured by men, nor cast down when they were despised. And certainly neither sort of temptation was wanting to those great men. For they were both cried up by the loud praises of believers, and cried down by the slanderous reports of their persecutors. But the apostles used all these things, as occasion served, and were not corrupted[.]
Augustine, Of Holy Virginity: We lately put forth a book "of the Good of Marriage," in which also we admonished and admonish the virgins of Christ, not, on account of that greater gift which they have received, to despise, in comparison of themselves, the fathers and mothers of the People of God; and not to think those men (Rom. 11:17,18), (whom the Apostle sets forth as the olive, that the engrafted wild olive be not proud,) who did service to Christ about to come hereafter, even by the begetting of sons, on this account of less desert, because by divine right continence is preferred to wedded life, and pious virginity to marriage. Forsooth in them were being prepared and brought forth future things, which now we see fulfilled in a marvellous and effectual manner, whose married life also was prophetic: whence, not after the wonted custom of human wishes and joys, but by the very deep counsel of God, in certain of them fruitfulness obtained to be honored, in certain also barrenness to be made fruitful. But at this time, towards them unto whom it is said, "if they contain not, let them be married," (1 Cor. 7:9) we must use not consolation, but exhortation. But them, unto whom it is said, "Whoso can receive, let him receive," (Matt. 19:12) we must exhort, that they be not alarmed; and alarm that they be not lifted up. Wherefore virginity is not only to be set forth, that it may be loved, but also to be admonished, that it be not puffed up.
John Cassian (C.360-435), The Twelve Books on the Institutes of the Cœnobia: Some such thing we read of in the book of Chronicles. For Joash the king of Judah at the age of seven was summoned by Jehoiada the priest to the kingdom and by the witness of Scripture is commended for all his actions as long as the aforesaid priest lived. But hear what Scripture relates of him after Jehoiada’s death, and how he was puffed up with pride and given over to a most disgraceful state. "But after the death of Jehoiada the princes went in and worshipped the king: and he was soothed by their services and hearkened unto them. And they forsook the temple of the Lord, the God of their fathers, and served groves and idols, and great wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem because of this sin." And after a little: "When a year was come about, the army of Syria came up against him: and they came to Judah and Jerusalem, and killed all the princes of the people, and they sent all the spoils to the king to Damascus. And whereas there came a very small number of the Syrians, the Lord delivered into their hands an infinite multitude, because they had forsaken the Lord the God of their fathers: and on Joash they executed shameful judgments. And departing they left him in great diseases." (2 Chron. 24:17, 18, 23-25) You see how the consequence of pride was that he was given over to shocking and filthy passions. For he who is puffed up with pride and has permitted himself to be worshipped as God, is (as the Apostle says) "given over to shameful passions and a reprobate mind to do those things which are not convenient." (Romans 1:26,28) And because, as Scripture says, "every one who exalts his heart is unclean before God," (Prov. 16:5 LXX) he who is puffed up with swelling pride of heart is given over to most shameful confusion to be deluded by it, that when thus humbled he may know that he is unclean through impurity of the flesh and knowledge of impure desires,—a thing which he had refused to recognize in the pride of his heart; and also that the shameful infection of the flesh may disclose the hidden impurity of the heart, which he contracted through the sin of pride, and that through the patent pollution of his body he may be proved to be impure, who did not formerly see that he had become unclean through the pride of his spirit.
John Cassian, Conferences: And that we ought not to be puffed up by victories over them he likewise charges us; saying, "Lest after thou hast eaten and art filled, hast built goodly houses and dwelt in them, and shalt have herds of oxen and flocks of sheep, and plenty of gold and of silver, and of all things, thy heart be lifted up and thou remember not the Lord thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage; and was thy leader in the great and terrible wilderness." (Deut. 8:12-15) Solomon also says in Proverbs: "When thine enemy shall fall be not glad, and in his ruin be not lifted up, lest the Lord see and it displease Him, and He turn away His wrath from him," (Prov 24:17,18 LXX) i.e., lest He see thy pride of heart, and cease from attacking him, and thou begin to be forsaken by Him and so once more to be troubled by that passion which by God's grace thou hadst previously overcome. For the prophet would not have prayed in these words, "Deliver not up to beasts, O Lord, the soul that confesseth to Thee," (Ps. 73:19) unless he had known that because of their pride of heart some were given over again to those faults which they had overcome, in order that they might be humbled. Wherefore it is well for us both to be certified by actual experience, and also to be instructed by countless passages of Scripture, that we cannot possibly overcome such mighty foes in our own strength, and unless supported by the aid of God alone; and that we ought always to refer the whole of our victory each day to God Himself, as the Lord Himself also gives us instruction by Moses on this very point: "Say not in thine heart when the Lord thy God shall have destroyed them in thy sight: For my righteousness hath the Lord brought me in to possess this land, whereas these nations are destroyed for their wickedness. For it is not for thy righteousness, and the uprightness of thine heart, that thou shalt go in to possess their lands: but because they have done wickedly they are destroyed at thy coming in." (Deut. 9:4,5) I ask what could be said clearer in opposition to that impious notion and impertinence of ours, in which we want to ascribe everything that we do to our own free will and our own exertions? "Say not," he tells us, "in thine heart, when the Lord thy God shall have destroyed them in thy sight: For my righteousness the Lord hath brought me in to possess this land." To those who have their eyes opened and their ears ready to hearken does not this plainly say: When your struggle with carnal faults has gone well for you, and you see that you are free from the filth of them, and from the fashions of this world, do not be puffed up by the success of the conflict and victory and ascribe it to your own power and wisdom, nor fancy that you have gained the victory over spiritual wickedness and carnal sins through your own exertions and energy, and free will! For there is no doubt that in all this you could not possibly have succeeded, unless you had been fortified and protected by the help of the Lord.
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